Utah Women’s Basketball to Open December Home Stand with Oral Roberts



University of Utah Utes Women’s Basketball Team Guard Bryanna Maxwell (11) looks to pass the ball during an NCAA Basketball match vs. the South Dakota Coyotes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Adam Cochran, Sports Writer


The University of Utah women’s basketball team (4-3, 0-0 Pac-12) will host the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (4-5, 0-0 Summit League) on Thursday, December 5, at 7 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. The Utes are on a four-game winning streak and will be back at home after three games away from the Huntsman Center, a stretch in which they went 3-0, including a rivalry win against BYU.

Preview — Utah

Utah’s four-game winning streak is proving that this young team is learning how to play together. Players are getting more comfortable in their roles and are stepping up. The Utes have limited their turnovers after having difficulties earlier in the season.

Utah’s hot shooting has continued, proving to be a strength for this team. Six Utes have connected on at least five 3-point field goals this season, with eight different Utes having connected from downtown at some point this season. As a team, they are shooting 35% from beyond the arc. The shooting barrage starts with freshman Brynna Maxwell, who has made 22 3-pointers this season, averaging 3.1 per game, and shooting 40% from deep. Ola Makurat has connected on nine 3-pointers, shooting an outstanding 52.9%. Niyah Becker also has made eight 3-point field goals for the Utes as well, shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc.


Statistical Leaders

The Utes are led in scoring by Maxwell, who averages 14.1 points per game. She is also the third leading rebounder from her guard spot with 4.3 rebounds per game. Forward Lola Pendande averages 11.3 points and a team high 5.9 rebounds per game. Becker rounds out the double-digit scorers for the Utes, scoring 10.3. Another player to watch out for scoring the ball is Julie Brosseau. After a slow start to the season, Brosseau has settled in and scored 11 points in each of the last two games for the Utes. Look for her to keep up the scoring as she proved she could playing at the University of Maine before her transfer to Utah.

Dru Gylten continues to be an elite distributor of the ball from her point guard position, averaging 5.1 assists per game. Gylten, Becker and Pendande all make their presence felt on the defensive end as well, averaging 1.7, 1.6 and 1.1 steals per game respectively.

The Utes are playing their best basketball of the season right now and look to get their December started the right way with a win. The Utes will play only home games in the month, and their five-game home stand will be the longest of the season.


Preview — Oral Roberts

The Golden Eagles are led in large part by Keni Jo Lippe. The offense runs through the Lippe. The junior averages 19.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. She leads the team in points and assists and is second in rebounds. Lippe has been prone to turn the ball over, committing 13 turnovers against Tulsa and eight against Texas State.

The battle on the inside will face off two Spaniards, as Pendande takes on Montserrat Brotons. Brotons is a 6’4” senior who leads the Golden Eagles in rebounding at 7.0 per game, while also adding 9.6 points per game. Pendande, who is also 6’4”, will have her hands full once again on the rebounding. While Brotons isn’t the offensive weapon that Pendande is, this should be a matchup to watch.

Rylie Torrey is the second leading scorer for the Golden Eagles. Torrey is a pure shooter. She averages 13.2 points per game, while shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc. She is also an excellent free throw shooter, having yet to miss this season on 17 attempts. To contain Torrey, the Utes simply need to make her put the ball on the floor. Torrey averages 2.3 turnovers per game and her shooting percentage drops significantly when she steps inside the 3-point line. Tight pressure defense should be a key to slowing down the sharpshooter.


Keys to the Game

Pressure Defense

The Golden Eagles average 19.6 turnovers per game and have passed the 20 mark in 5 games this season. The Utes’ pressure defense and continuing to take advantage of turnovers, as they have this season, will prove a major advantage for the Utes. Look for Gylten, Becker and Kiana Moore to pressure the ball and get takeaways that the Utes convert into points on the other end.


Keep Shooting

The way the Utes have been shooting over the course of the season needs to continue. Whether it’s Pendande shooting 68.1% on the season from the interior or kicking out to one of the myriad shooters the Utes scatter all over the court, getting good shots will continue the hot shooting for the Utes and carry them to a victory.


Capitalize on Their Size Advantage

Head coach Lynne Roberts uses 10 players as a part of her normal rotation. Six of those players measure at 6’0” or taller. Oral Roberts on the other hand, plays two players in this height range. The Utes need to take advantage of this in rebounding and also in attacking the basket. If the Utes can win the rebounding battle and score more points in the paint, look for Utah to cruise in this matchup.


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